Laval again?

By Kris Kotarski

I think our regular volleyball writer is in Holland and I have this strange feeling he’s not handing in a story this week…

Anyhow, on to men’s volleyball. Who knew the Dinos would enter the final weekend of 2002/2003 season seeded sixth? Who knew they’d make it to the National Championships at all?

I didn’t think they could, and I was not alone. The aforementioned volleyball writer had doubts too and most of the Dinos’ brass shared our point of view. All but the most fanatical fans were off the band wagon until sometime after Christmas.

But then the Dinos started winning. The reigning Canadian Interuniversity Sport Player of the Year Denis Zhukov returned from his stint with the Kazakh national team, and the rest of the boys settled back into their familiar supporting roles with the big man back.

Libero Kelly Cherniwchan regained his health for the playoffs, and somehow, the Dinos are going to nationals. And surprise, surprise, they get to play Universite Laval in the first round. Where have we seen that before?

The Dinos tanked it against Laval last season, but there’s a pretty healthy rivalry between the two, and Calgary has a pretty good chance at an upset. Canada West volleyball teams have a way of beating eastern teams to a pulp, and even though the Dinos are in tough, I can almost guarantee that the fifth seed Saskatchewan Huskies will thrash Toronto, the fourth seed, embarrassing the seeding committee. In short, anything can happen.

The CIS Championship begins Feb. 21 at the University of Alberta and the hosts are favored to repeat as champs. The Dinos are there to spoil the party, and if they continue to defy expectations, perhaps a medal of some sort is in the not-so-distant future.

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